Over to You, Mr. Brown: How Labour Can Win Again

In This Review

Over to You, Mr. Brown: How Labour Can Win Again

By Anthony Giddens
Polity, 2007
256 pp. $54.95
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In 1998, the British sociologist Giddens published The Third Way, a sort of centrist manifesto that rejected the dogmas of both the left, with Old Labour's faith in the state and reliance on the working class, and the right, with Margaret Thatcher's faith in the free market and relative indifference to social inequality. Together with similar thinking being done by American "New Democrats" around the same time, such ideas helped influence British Prime Minister Tony Blair as he modernized the Labour Party and governed in the center. Now, ten years later, Giddens is offering advice to another new Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown, but the result is likely to prove less influential. Packaged as a "radical reshaping" of policy, Over to You, Mr. Brown essentially restates the central (and still valid) messages of the first: that economic growth is a precondition to achieving other priorities, that the state has an important role to play but should not be overbearing, and that British elections are won in the center. Giddens argues that Labour should present itself as a "party of substance," yet he could not resist writing a book that reads more like an electoral guide -- replete with calls to "emphasize the economy," "prioritize education," and "attack poverty" -- than a detailed policy platform. The famously wonky Mr. Brown would have been more likely to read and benefit from the latter.